|Photo by Heikki Siltala.|
Another trip to the YMCA where I'm measuring my pace against Father Time. After an injury last fall followed by an illness in the winter, I got lazy about getting to the gym. In 2013, I had been spending about 10 hours a week at the gym doing a combination of cardio, yoga and strength training. I was moving so fast that I figured Father Time would consider me "outta sight, outta mind."
Not so fast.
On Thanksgiving weekend last year, I pushed myself too hard trying to recapture my youth and pulled a muscle--or two. That overexertion only served to catapult me about a decade too early into complaining about aches and pains.
For the bulk of this year, I have slowed down to just 3 hours a week of walking and gentle yoga. But over the past month, I've been picking up my pace. I've been doing some race walking. Today, I'm eager to see if I'm fit enough to pass a few people on the indoor track.
I adjust my earphones and note that Barry White keeping me company. "My kind of wonderful, that's what you are." The elevated track at the YMCA is inexplicably empty.
|Photo by Kevin Ryder.|
After I complete about five laps, a twentysomething guy climbs up the stairs to the track. He begins an exercise regime where he does lunges in the northwest corner of the track. Then he race walks one lap before returning to his exercises. His eyes are glazed over; he's not paying attention to me at all.
Not to be trivialized, I decide that it's "game on." I'm going to pass him on the track.
I lengthen my stride, pull my shoulders back a bit more, and deepen my breath to help propel me. "You're like a first morning dew on a brand new day." I'm remembering my days spent jogging along the C&O Tow Path in Georgetown during my own twentysomethings.
Today I'm strutting my mid-century stuff with my quarter-century memories to fuel me.
I am well aware that my body has undergone significant changes since the 1980s. But being a wounded warrior of sorts only makes me feel stronger. Each scar is like a racing stripe: the tip of my left thumb missing from a mishandled knife while cutting carrots, various moles removed as a precaution, breast infection drained, and breast tissue removed and tested.
I feel energy emanating from each shimmering, silver scar.
Additionally, my right hip harbors a torn piriformis that requires some TLC, so I flex my transverus abdominis muscles as my physical therapist has trained me to do. This strengthens my back, which is prone to go out of alignment due to my weak hip. I actually have a stronger core at age 52 than I did at age 25. Thanks to all those hours at physical therapy (followed up by regular yoga practice), I can hold a plank for 4 minutes.
Feeling like a phoenix, I'm pushing forward at full speed, passing this young guy every time he's doing his lap between lunges.
Now I see a mature couple has climbed the stairs and has started to walk the track side by side. They have set a pretty good pace. It's going to take me a while to reach them. I applaud them for dedicating the time to stay fit. "Your my sun, my moon, my guiding star." If I'm lucky, I'll also be walking the track when I'm three-quarters-of a century.
|Photo by Chris Hunkeler.|
I look back at the young guy doing lunges and look forward at the white-haired couple walking briskly ahead of me. Time starts sliding around. I am on the track with memories of my younger self pushing me today and expectations of my future self pulling me. I'm hoping for a glorious future where I can enjoy mobility for decades to come.
"Girl, you're my reality, but I'm lost in a dream. Your my first, my last, my everything."
Sing us out, Barry!